Kurdistan Parliament speaker’s decision reverse immunity vote is illegal: KRG justice minister

Kurdistan Parliament Speaker Rewaz Faqay and Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Minister of Justice Firsat Ahmed (File)

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SULAIMANI — The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Minister of Justice said on Monday (June 29) that a move by the Kurdistan Parliament Speaker Rewaz Fayaq to reverse the legislature’s vote to strip parliamentary immunity from an opposition lawmaker had violated the general law of legal hierarchy and that her order will not be published in the Official Gazette of Kurdistan.

“According to the law, the decision that has been requested to be published is considered a non-existent decision and its publication will be a source of criticism and dangerous precedent for the Kurdistan Parliament, presidency, and political system,” said Minister Firsat Ahmed in a statement.

Ahmed said, if there are no mechanisms to object to a decision by Parliament, that condition does not mean that the Kurdistan Parliament’s leadership can act as if that power existed and nullify parliamentary votes.

On May 7, the Kurdistan Parliament voted to strip Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG) lawmaker Soran Omar of parliamentary immunity with a total of 57 MPs supporting the measure. The vote was heavily pushed by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and supported by the eleven lawmakers holding seats reserved for ethnic and religious minorities and two legislators from small parties.

Omar had criticized KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, accusing him of corruption. The vote left the KIG MP vulnerable to prosecution. Barzani is a member of the KDP, as is Justice Minister Ahmed.

Lawmakers from the remaining parties, including Speaker Fayaq, walked out in protest over the vote, leaving nearly half the chamber empty.

Along with the coronavirus pandemic, lingering political acrimony from the vote has contributed to a relatively fallow Spring Legislative Session, with only one meeting of the Parliament taking place since May 7.

In consultation with the Kurdistan Region’s Shura Council, Fayaq invalidated the vote on June 14, laying out her justification for doing so in Letter Number 37 and calling for it to be published in the Official Gazette of Kurdistan.

(NRT Digital Media)